Instant Gratification and the Lost Art of Letter Writing

People sometimes ask me why I write the way I do — the conversational tone, the crazy diversions, the breaking of the fourth wall, and putting words into my audience’s mouth.

Well, I could try to explain it, but the truth is, I’ve always been a little crazy, and I used to write strange, absurdly divergent letters to friends and family.

I used to go through pads and pads of yellow legal paper, drafting out weird missives whose only intent was to make that person laugh, cry or scratch their head. I’d mix in current happenings from my life with song lyrics or random pop culture references. Sometimes I’d break into a story idea I had, and write out a couple of paragraphs for the person to read — maybe they’d write back and continue the story.

I’d doodle, I’d tell jokes, I’d cover the envelope with poetry and sketches of Opus the Penguin or just cover it with bats.

I spent a lot of time doing this, and I don’t anymore.

Instead, I sent an instant message, and engage in banter with people, and while that’s fun, it almost feels like improv rather than something that thought went into.

I’m trying something for myself — I’m spending less time on line for a bit. A) I need it after being constantly on-line pimping my book for six weeks straight. B) I have books to read, records to buy, sunshine to enjoy, people to enjoy in person, and I am just as much a product of this generation as anyone else, and have a tendency to get trapped online, checking my social media every five minutes to see what I’ve missed.

If there isn’t already a diagnosed Facebook Syndrome, I believe there certainly will be soon.

So, I’m challenging myself to do something different. Rather than be available 24/7 on line, I’m going to write letters. Emails at first, and maybe some good old-fashioned letters.

I’d like to issue the challenge to you, too. If you’d like to correspond with me, I’d like that. Send me an email, and I’ll write you one in return.

Anyone who’s actually corresponded with me can attest that nobody writes letters like I do.

Delay the gratification; slow life down a bit, and enjoy it. Remember that old adage — how will I miss you if you never GO AWAY!

I think you may find it a rewarding experience — and that you may have more to say to your friends if you have to save it all up for ONE communique rather than having that instant messenger up and running.

Give it a try.  If you don’t have my email address, leave a message in the comments and I’ll get it to you.

If you have my address and want to send me a letter, I’m going to ask that you hold off — I’m moving on May 1st.

Hope  to hear from you soon.

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10 responses to “Instant Gratification and the Lost Art of Letter Writing

  1. I love this. Last year I committed to writing a letter a day for a month. While I didn’t succeed (life intervened) I wrote about 20 letters I think. Some people responded, some didn’t. I also did a handwritten letter campaign for the release of P.O.W.ER, writing cards to everyone in my address book that had the cover on it. I think that helped reach people who aren’t really connected to social media. I miss the days of letter writing, of rambling, informative, honest, provocative, and revealing letters. I’m totally in.

  2. I suck at letter writing. (and writing comments <<<) I have been working on a letter for Lizzi for about 4 months. I keep tearing it up and starting over. I'm not even sure why. But I bet your letters are amazing…

  3. I’m going to an island with no electricity, running water OR INTERNET/PHONE for a week in July. I. Can’t. WAIT.

    I absolutely agree. After spending my recent birthday with everyone in my life forgetting about it (except to make it a blip on Facebook), I can say I’m well and truly sick of both Facebook and most everyone I know in my immediate life.

  4. Ah! See how far behind I am? I got the email before I read the post that there might be an email in my future. I love this idea. I’ve already written back and saw the Couche-Tard pic on Facebook. It made me smile.

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